Medical Ethics Committee
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We understand that healthcare decisions involving complex issues can be difficult to make. At Baptist Medical Center, our Ethics Committee is here to help. We offer advice and guidance to families, providers and treatment teams who are trying to reach an agreement about the best way to care for a patient.
Our recommendations often revolve around the needs of seriously ill people, and we take our roles very seriously. Above all else, we want to ensure that the individual patient's health, safety, welfare and rights are protected.
What is the Ethics Committee?
The Ethics Committee is an interdisciplinary advisory group appointed by the hospital. It serves as a resource to provide guidance and clarity in cases where difficult ethical issues arise while a patient is being cared for.
What does the Ethics Committee do?
The Ethics Committee helps patients, families and healthcare providers as they strive to reach an agreement about the care options best suited to a patient. Members of the Committee, who participate on a volunteer basis, listen to those involved in the case and help ensure a decision is reached that aligns with the values and principles of those affected by the healthcare decision.
The Committee's tasks include:
- Answering questions surrounding the starting and stopping of certain medical treatments, such as a breathing tube.
- Advising families on how to make medical decisions for their loved one when that person is unable to do so for him/herself.
- Deciding how to develop a treatment plan that is in accordance with a patient or family's cultural beliefs.
- Developing and amending hospital policies concerning ethical issues.
- Providing ethics education to healthcare providers in the hospital.
The Ethics Committee does not:
- Make decisions for patients, families and surrogates.
- Tell healthcare team members what to do
When should you consult the Ethics Committee?
The Committee can be consulted when:
- The patient's treatment goals are unclear.
- There is uncertainty surrounding the decision-making roles of the patient, the family, the providers, and the treatment team.
- The patient, family, providers or treatment team needs help resolving a conflict.
Who can ask for a consultation by the Ethics Committee?
Patients, families, patient surrogates, members of the healthcare team or other healthcare staff may ask for a consultation.
Does the Ethics Committee have a final word on decisions reached?
The Committee only offers advice that is intended to complement the decisions ultimately reached by the patient, the family, the providers and the treatment team.
Is there a cost for an ethics consultation?
Ethics consultations are provided by Baptist Medical Center - Downtown free of charge.
Who serves on the Ethics Committee?
The multidisciplinary team includes representatives such as physicians, nurses, patient advocates, social services representatives, chaplains and community members. Legal and Risk Management Department representatives also participate.